'Paedophile hunters' put vulnerable people at risk of harm, police say

Patrice Gainsbourg
Abril 20, 2017

A senior Hunted One member confirmed the group would no longer be streaming live stings online as a result of what happened at Bluewater.

Kent Police said it has "significant concerns about people taking the law into their own hands" and the methods used following recent stings by vigilante groups.

The group says more than 250 people have been brought to court through stings it has carried out across the United Kingdom, including several in Kent.

Police have raised concerns about such vigilante operations and have publicly urged anyone with evidence of online grooming or knows a suspect is planning to meet a potential victim to contact them.

Vigilante "paedophile-hunters" have been told that their sting operations put police investigations in jeopardy, after a brawl at a shopping centre. Ch Supt Thomas Richards said their activities risked hampering police investigations and potentially exposing innocent members of the public to false accusations.

He said: "We do have significant concerns about people taking the law into their own hands and the methods they use, and in some cases acting outside of the law".

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Video footage showed violent scenes after one of the group confronted the man, saying: "You're here to meet a child for sex, yeah?"

"There is also the risk that it can potentially identify people who are completely innocent and mistakenly associate them with grooming offences".

Mr Richards said targeting unsafe offenders and keeping children safe was a "top priority" for police, but the general public may also cause vulnerable people with mental health issues serious risk of harm. In a statement it said: "We will no longer be going live for the stings, as we don't want cases and evidence ruined ..."

Lee John Harvey, 20, of The Drive, Gravesend, and Joe Simpkin, 20, of Wheatstone Road, Erith, each face a charge of affray when they appear at Medway Magistrates' Court on May 10.

Last year Mark McKenna, 38, was jailed for five years after he was duped by The Hunted One into believing he was meeting an 11-year-old girl for sex at Bluewater while his fiancee was away at a hen do.

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